Two lost souls find comfort in each other in this effective slow-burner set in New Orleans. Directed by New Yorker Lila Neugebauer, Causeway features one of Jennifer Lawrence’s best and most subtle performances as Lynsey, a soldier who is recovering after an explosion in Afghanistan. She’s told that it will require considerable physio and time for her to recover both physically and mentally. When she’s eventually discharged home, it’s clear that she is still suffering from PTSD and memory issues – and that ‘home’ isn’t exactly where the heart is.
Strains soon appear in her relationship with her mother Gloria (Linda Emond). When she winds up at a random garage after her beat-up truck breaks down, she meets mechanic James (Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry), who subtly clocks her memory problems and makes small gestures to help her out. It becomes clear that he’s got his own demons, and the pair begin a hesitant friendship borne more out of need than desire.
Causeway offers an involving portrait of disparate people who make a connection over occasional beers and frequent loneliness. Both actors are terrific: Lawrence is understated and compelling while Henry is by turns sympathetic, amusing and heartbreaking. Neither appear used to courting friendships, unschooled in the art of platonic overtures. Perhaps because of this, the waters are occasionally muddied by the suggestion of a mutual attraction. Refreshingly, the screenplay sidesteps buddy movie or romance tropes in favour of a heartfelt exploration of the grey areas in new friendships.
It’s one of Jennifer Lawrence’s best and most subtle performances
The supporting characters also buck stereotypes in their own ways. Gloria isn’t a cookie-cutter neglectful mother: she’s complicated but she cares, and her drinking and dating don’t define her, as both we and Lynsey increasingly realise. It’s also interesting to see Lynsey having the same conversation with different people at different times, colouring her character and revealing her repeated concerns – again, that's something you don’t often see on-screen, unless it’s used for comic effect.
By leaning into those relatable complexities, Causeway will offer plenty for fans of thoughtful, quality dramas that touch on humanity, trauma, connection and the kindness of strangers.
On Apple TV+ worldwide Nov 4.